How to Make It as an Artist: 8 Steps to Success
How far do you want to go as an artist?
This is completely down to you as an individual, but if you want to make it as a professional; you need a long-term plan and a well-structured marketing strategy for your work.
So if you are serious about making a career in the art world and you have created your art already you should follow these steps that will teach you how to make it as an artist.
With the added bonus of the internet today there are many platforms available to suit your individual needs with different tools that make marketing a lot easier than you may have initially thought.
It’s always good to set up on social media to get your work into the spotlight. There are thousands of artists out there already making use of what the internet has to offer, but don’t let that put you off as art is unique, once you’ve established yourself and your art style, you will begin to build your own fan base.
2. Good photography is key
A good start is to get the photography of your art as clear as you possibly can to expose the colors and clearly show your work.
Lighting is important and can be deceptive if not done correctly. Hiring a photographer would be ideal for this task, although not everyone has the budget for a photographer so the alternatives would be to invest in a few pieces of vital materials such as a good quality camera, photo softbox & lighting kits (which are available in several sizes with coloured backdrops and can be sourced for a reasonable price) and finally, it’s always good to have Photoshop or creative cloud, to finish off the photo quality.
Once you have good quality pictures it is also important to display your work in an attractive way.
3. Finding the right platform to sell your art
Searching for the right platform to sell from can be a daunting prospect.
I’ve gathered some information by researching the best places to start with selling art, there are some fantastic websites to choose from, some with no listing fees and only a small fee for selling your work, others can offer you several options and helpful tools for your listings to maximize your chances of sales (eg. sell originals as well as offering prints of your work).
Whatever the path you wish to take, I have sourced some websites for you to find the right method to suit:
eBay now has an added art category within the site, with a specific ‘Self-Representing’ artist section. As eBay is an International website, you reach a large audience. Depending on the option you choose to market your art here, eBay offers a mix of free listing fees, initially 20 per month depending on your account, then a further fee once you have sold an item.
Again, Amazon is a huge platform to sell from and another great way to reach a large audience. Listing fees and sale fees apply for this marketing option.
Etsy is an international marketplace for all things creative, crafty & handmade. With a small listing fee of $0.20 to list each item for four months or until it sells, and only a 3.5% commission fee, Etsy is a great place to start and has a very helpful online community of buyers & sellers with plenty of advice to hand. Etsy also has various tools to get you started with your online shop.
Specialist Art Selling Platforms
Fine Art America: Fine Art America is a huge artist’s platform with an international audience. Allowing you to build your own profile and portfolio of work, you can sell original art as well as multiple options to sell prints, greeting cards & apparel to name a few. There is also a big community where there are contests, galleries, groups, discussions & events near you. This is a great place to start as Fine Art America does a lot of the production for you on the printing aspects, leaving you to ship original artwork to the buyer.
At Artpal, you can sell originals as well as prints with their ‘Print On Demand’ service. You will earn 95-100% profit from your work depending on your chosen selling method, as their commission is only 5%. It is free to create your own gallery of work, and you can sell anything from art to creative crafts.
A couple more worth checking out are:
4. Marketing your art
Once you have set up your selling platforms the next step forward is marketing your work through social media and start building your fan & follower base through the likes of Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin etc.
The more you network and share your work the more it will be seen by potential customers. Getting involved in business networking hours on Twitter will enable more people to share your work, again this will maximize the total audience reach.
Regular posting and networking help you understand what people engage with, the use of marketing tools such as Buffer & Hootsuite makes it easier for you to pre-schedule your posts & tweets to several social media sites all at the same time. Whatever material brings in the most engagements, be sure to do more of the same as being aware of what people connect with will be the overall success of you making it as an artist.
It’s always a good idea to have business cards at the ready, just in case you are out and about when people may ask in person what kind of art you produce, a business card with a sample of your work on to hand is a great way to get people interested. Flyers, leaflets & promotional media forms are also a good source to hand out to local shops or places of interest that fit in with your work as well as sending them with any orders you receive so that your customers can pass them on to family & friends.
5. Get involved in the artistic community
Getting involved within a community by holding a stall at fun days or art events is good for meeting people, a chance for your work to be seen first hand, which will always generate interest.
Look into local galleries that are available to you, take some examples of your work and meet with the gallery curator for their opinions and to see whether you could have your own gallery exhibition held.
The more active you are the more chances you will have to get your art noticed, it is great to hear feedback on your art.
Join in the discussions within the art communities on some of the websites I mentioned, as there is always good advice, help & tips on how you can improve. This will keep your creative ideas flowing, and may even open up new doors if you are not involved there is the chance that you could miss out on opportunities to grow.
7. Still feeling uncertain? Seek advice
Taking a career path as an artist is not a simple one. There is a lot of hard graft that follows being a creative individual, it’s all very well having the talent and producing the work, but getting out there and selling it to earn a living is the hardest task. Not to worry as help is at hand in a number of areas from financial help to business advisors.
There are funding options available to help you purchase the materials you need, your local Chamber Of Commerce usually have a lot of professionals who are on hand to help individuals take the necessary steps forward by allocating business advisors who will help you with a business plan & marketing strategy. They can also help with some initial funding from an enterprise, or the Prince’s Trust, just generally there to help and point you in the right direction.
Local councils will have knowledge of any other artistic projects that are running in your area, it’s always good to get involved with anything that will enhance your journey forward.
8. Artist career pathways
With many different routes available for artists, whichever route you take is purely based on you as an individual. If you are looking at selling original pieces only, then a possible route would be to sell through galleries with the likes of Fine Art America, as they have all the necessary tools available for this option.
If you are selling artwork purely as a hobby, then websites such as eBay & Art.com would be a good option. Not everyone will have the budget to buy original work, so it’s best to keep in mind that offering prints of your art is a saleable option.
There are other options to promote yourself and your work through Freelancing websites, with plenty of remote jobs available for many creative projects and worth a look as an alternative way to earn an extra income.